A vibrant, thoughtful memoir reflecting contemporary black cultural concerns.

A DROP OF MIDNIGHT

A MEMOIR

A memoir from a Swedish hip-hop artist with a multiracial background.

In his debut, Diakité looks at themes such as race, manhood, family ties, and rootlessness with an unusual stance and fresh, sometimes-striking voice. His writing has an ethereal, questioning quality, in sync with his background as the son of an African American man and a white American woman who moved to Sweden and then divorced. “I was never American, never Swedish, never white but never black either,” he writes. “I was a no-man’s-land in the world. I have a complex system of roots that branches across continents, ethnicities, classes, colors, and eras….Must I have just one origin?” Both parents are portrayed as complex, with mixed feelings about their experiences. As his mother notes, “to experience the same ignorance, the same fear, the same hate, in Sweden, weighed heavy on us.” Diakité captures the cruelty of childhood peers alongside his dawning perceptions regarding race, and he reflects on the cultural awakening that led him to success as a rapper in Sweden. “You might call Reagan the godfather of gangster rap,” he writes. “Under his rule was born the music made of hard drums and urgent voices.” The two primary narrative threads are his travels to the U.S., in an attempt to weigh his personal history against a larger story of racial marginalization, and his tenuous relationship with his father. Accompanied by a filmmaker friend, he visited places including rural South Carolina, Harlem, New Orleans, Baltimore, and tourist-oriented slave plantations (and one acknowledging the black perspective). Everywhere he grimly observes hidden narratives of the long-term mistreatment of black communities, tied to the original sin of slavery: “Real people—my forefathers—were whipped, tortured, herded, and sold like livestock.” Diakité explores family history that reflects much African American experience, including Jim Crow, Harlem in its prime, and the embrace of Afrocentrism in the 1960s. While his storytelling is occasionally heavy-handed or repetitive, the author’s prose is often nimble and observant, sharply considering the burdens surrounding race and masculinity.

A vibrant, thoughtful memoir reflecting contemporary black cultural concerns.

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1707-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Amazon Crossing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more